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US envoy wants to make 'second impression'

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US envoy wants to make 'second impression'
George Tsunis speaking to the US senate on Tuesday - Source: Screen Grab
17:09 CET+01:00
George Tsunis, the would-be US ambassador to Norway who made headlines last week with his catastrophic senate hearing, has told The Local of how impatient he is to set the record straight.
"As you can imagine, the day when I am able to make a second impression cannot come soon enough," the Greek-American hotel millionaire said on Thursday. 
 
During the January 16 hearing Tsunis made a series of disastrous blunders that made headlines both in Norway and in the US, where his apparent ignorance was cited as a warning of what happens when political donors are rewarded with ambassadorial positions. 
 
Tsunis described politicians from the anti-immigration Progress Party, which has seven ministers in Norway's government, as "fringe elements" that "spew their hatred". 
 
He then went on to refer to Norway's "president", apparently under the impression that the country is a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy. 
 
State Department rules forbid nominee ambassadors from speaking to the press ahead of their formal appointments, preventing Tsunis from apologising publicly for the mistakes he made. 
 
But a person who knows the lawyer and businessman well told The Local of "the highest esteem" with which he views "the Kingdom of Norway", and added that he would still be "honoured" if called to serve in the country. 
 
"He made a mistake, and he has nothing, nothing but the highest respect for Norway," the friend said. "It’s a country he really wanted to go to, and believe me, he was offered a lot of options." 
 
The friend said that Tsunis particularly respected the country for establishing the Government Pension Fund of Norway, which takes its oil revenues and invests them for future generations. 
 
"He admires the way they conduct themselves there," the friend explained.  "He has found them to have a culture of investment, rather than a culture of consumption. They think three to four generations ahead."  
 
According to the friend, Tsunis is also a longstanding admirer of Norway's "sense of social conscience" and the work the country does internationally to promote peace. 
 
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